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Table Tennis


Table tennis started as a genteel, after-dinner game, but is now a fast, high-tech sport. It also has the most participants of any sport in the world.

High society origins

It is thought that upper-class Victorians in England invented table tennis in the 1880s as a genteel, after-dinner alternative to lawn tennis, using whatever they could find as equipment. A line of books would often be the net, the rounded top of a champagne cork would be the ball and occasionally a cigar box lid would be a racket.

Evolution

In 1926, meetings were held in Berlin and London that led to the formation of the International Table Tennis Federation. The first World Championships were held in London in 1926, but the sport had to wait a long time before it was given its Olympic debut at the 1988 Seoul Games.

Modern changes

The sport has progressed enormously since it was first invented.  Nowadays, players use specially developed rubber-coated wooden and carbon-fibre rackets and a lightweight, hollow celluloid ball. Thanks to their high-tech rackets, they can now smash the ball at over 150 kilometres per hour!

Popular appeal

It is estimated there are 40 million competitive table tennis players and countless millions playing recreationally, making it the sport with the most participants worldwide. This is largely owing to its enormous popularity in China, which has become the dominant force in the sport.

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Gallery

Table Tennis - Women's Team
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Table Tennis - Women's Team

Ning Ding and Liu Shiwen (red tops) of People's Republic of China compete against Yihan Zhou and Tianwei Feng of Singapore during the Table Tennis Women's Team Round Semifinal between China and Singapore during Day 10 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Riocentro - Pavilion 3 on August 15, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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Table Tennis - Men's Singles
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Table Tennis - Men's Singles

Ma Long of People's Republic of China competes during the Mens Table Tennis Singles Semifinal match between Ma Long of China and Jun Mizutani of Japan at Rio Centro on Day 6 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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Table Tennis - Men's Singles
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Table Tennis - Men's Singles

Jun Mizutani of Japan serves during the Mens Table Tennis Bronze Medal match between Jun Mizutani and Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus at Rio Centro on Day 6 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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Table Tennis - Men's Singles
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Table Tennis - Men's Singles

Jun Mizutani celebrates after winning the Mens Table Tennis Bronze Medal match against Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus at Rio Centro on Day 6 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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Table Tennis - Men's Singles
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Table Tennis - Men's Singles

Ma Long of People's Republic of China celebrates after winning his Mens Table Tennis Singles Semifinal match against Jun Mizutani of Japan at Rio Centro on Day 6 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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Table Tennis - Men's Singles
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Table Tennis - Men's Singles

Silver medalist Zhang Jike of People's Republic of China, gold medalist Ma Long of People's Republic of China and bronze medalist Jun Mizutani of Japan pose on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Mens Table Tennis at Rio Centro on on Day 6 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
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